President Joe Biden was in such a hurry to undo everything the Trump administration worked on that he may not have weighed the potential fallout. This is especially true when it comes to illegal immigration. Now the commander-in-chief is being sued by two states, and the attorney general from another has announced plans to file a suit as well. Arizona, Florida, and Montana claim Biden’s immigration plan is dangerous, unlawful, and perilous for citizens.
Already facing heat from both sides of the aisle, the president now has to figure out how to fight legal challenges from states. On Feb. 3, Arizona filed a lawsuit that was amended on March 8 to include Montana, and Florida announced on March 9 its intentions to sue. Ashley Moody, the attorney general of the Sunshine State, said the decision to take such action is a result of the Biden administration’s “egregious” immigration regulations, which she says are against federal law. She stated:
“I’ve been speaking for weeks now and alerting Americans to the fact that this administration is thumbing its nose to its responsibilities under federal law. It is required to deport criminal aliens that are here illegally and it is just saying we’re not going to do it anymore.”
In an obvious poke at the president, she added, “Come on, man, do your job.”
The Arizona lawsuit was originally initiated to stop Biden’s 100-day moratorium on deportations. According to the filing, the administration’s policy goes against federal law that requires immigrants with a final deportation order to be removed within 90 days.
The new rules prohibit U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from detaining illegal migrants except in three instances: those who pose a threat to national security, entered the United States after Nov. 1, or committed aggravated felonies. The Biden administration claims the rules don’t weaken the ability to arrest or deport people, yet the officers have to first request permission from their superiors unless the individuals committed one of the aforementioned offenses. But, as Moody explained:
“First, they canceled Operation Talon, which targeted sex offenders here in the United States illegally and now they’ve released guidance, which is basically releasing into our streets, serious criminal offenders. They’re canceling retainers and requiring our law enforcement leaders to release them back into our state. And this includes heroin traffickers, people that are breaking into homes – you know use of a firearm with some of these felonies.”
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who is responsible for filing the first lawsuit, said:
“DHS did not consult with states about the anticipated effects and costs of the new Moratorium, including the number of individuals with final removal orders who will be released from ICE custody and the detrimental impacts on public safety, health, state and local finances.”
Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen joined Brnovich in the lawsuit, explaining:
“Meth trafficked into Montana by Mexican drug cartels has wracked our state. The problem will only be made worse if the Biden administration continues to allow criminals to stay in the country. Enforcing our immigration laws and helping to keep Americans safe is one of the federal government’s most important functions. The Biden administration is failing its basic responsibility to Americans.”
According to the lawsuit, near the end of Donald Trump’s term, an agreement had been signed by Knudsen and Montana Governor Greg Gianforte (R) with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to restrict Biden’s ability to change the immigration policies that had been put into place. Brnovich also said he had a similar deal on behalf of Arizona, and reportedly several other agreements were quietly signed with state as well as local jurisdictions. Brnovich argues that with the administration’s new policies, Biden has violated an agreement already in place.
Chief Deputy Matthew Thomas of Pinal County, Arizona, said the border crisis began anew around the end of 2020 and claimed the reason for the surge is that human- and drug-trafficking cartels expected Biden to have a “hands-off” approach to border issues. “When [Trump] took office, we saw that this area out here went completely dead,” he said. “Nobody was moving, nobody was smuggling because [the cartels] knew that Trump was going to put all hands on deck out down here and that they would be intercepted so it came to a screeching halt.”
Pinal County does not have physical barriers to prevent illegal immigration; since the halting of border-wall construction, Thomas said migrants and smugglers have been encouraged to cross. “These people and these drugs are not coming here to Pinal County to stay. This is a transport location. This is a spot they get through to get to their final destination and they’re being sent all over the country.”
There is also the worry over the spread of coronavirus as migrants are not all tested. Brnovich expressed this concern and others in a statement:
“If asked about the poorest policy choice I’ve ever seen in government, this would be a strong contender. Blindly releasing thousands of people, including convicted criminals and those who may be spreading COVID-19 into our state, is both unconscionable and a violation of federal law. This must be stopped now to avoid a dangerous humanitarian crisis for the immigrants and the people of Arizona.”
So far three states are challenging the president, and it is likely that more, especially those highly impacted by illegal immigration, will follow the same path. Will this be enough to get the president to tighten border security, or will he continue to relax policies and ignore the pleas of states?
Read more from Kelli Ballard.